PORTAGE, Mich. — Courtney Struble is a pretty tough woman. She beat a drug addiction a few years ago and has been raising two kids all on her own. But Monday night, she spent a lot of time crying. Her mobile home, where she lived with her family the last two years, burned to the ground.
“My whole life was in that trailer,” said Struble during an interview in front of what was her home. “And it’s just up in smoke.”
Struble stopped by her home on Hamlin Street Tuesday and soaked in the devastation in silence. She walked around the exterior, that was covered with ash, and stared at blackened items that once filled her home. Pictures, furniture, and clothing all completely destroyed by the fire.
“Flames everywhere, smoke everywhere, water everywhere,” said Struble about the fire. “I just kept remembering all the memories that I had at my house, just all the sentimental stuff that’s irreplaceable like baby books and baby pictures and mainly the memories that I have in the house.”
Struble was at work when she got the phone call Monday night that her house was on fire. She immediately rushed home and saw fire crews battling the blaze. Police said in a statement that it took them 35 minutes to put out. Struble just stood next to her father and cried.
“She was telling me that she was sorry,” said Michael Struble during an interview at the house. “I was telling her ‘Don’t worry about being sorry Courtney, you’re alive. The kids are alive.’”
Struble's two little kids — 7-year-old Jordan and 5-month-old Hlayiah — were with their grandparents that night. Her dog though was in the house and he died in the fire. It was hard for her to speak about the pup and the fire itself. The house was a gift, she said, from her father. They'd all lived in the house together for two years. However when he moved out six months ago, he gave it to her as a reward for beating a drug addiction and returning to school.
“I tried to build, starting a future for her,” said Michael. “Then to see it all go up in a matters of hours, it’s just, just a total emptiness.”
Struble’s home was uninsured but she’s determined to bounce back she said. The Portage community she lives in has been rallying around her. One neighbor buried their dog for them. Others were stopping by to give hugs her and left her know they had baby clothes for her. Her dad set up a GoFundMe page for her. And the owners of Colonial Acres offered her a new home at the mobile park. Struble was grateful.
“Even when you’re sober and doing the right thing, bad stuff still happens,” said Struble. “But it’s what you do with the bad stuff that happens. How you deal with it that matters.”